Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

Jet Airways in Talks to Buy 50 Single-Aisle Aircraft

  • Indian carrier also studying A321neo as well as upgraded 737
  • U.S. manufacturer hunts orders as Max 10 debut looms in Paris

Jet Airways India Ltd. is in talks to buy 50 single-aisle jets worth at least $5.6 billion, a person with direct knowledge of the plan said, pitting the largest Boeing Co. 737 Max against Airbus SE’s A321neo.

The 737 Max is considered the front-runner at the airline, the person said, asking not to be identified as the discussions are confidential. The carrier, India’s biggest full-service airline, operates an all-Boeing narrow-body fleet and already has an order for the Max 8, the most popular of the planemaker’s revamped 737 models.

Jet Airways is studying two Boeing models: the high-density Max 200, favored by European budget carrier Ryanair Holdings Plc, as well as the Max 10, a stretched version Boeing may introduce in Paris this month, the person said. The airline could sign the deal in the next two months for deliveries starting 2024, the person said.

Jet Airways continuously reviews its fleet in response to demand, but won’t comment on speculation, a spokesman said by email. A representative for Chicago-based Boeing said by email that the planemaker is in constant communications with airlines in India about their needs but doesn’t discuss specific conversations publicly. An Airbus spokesman declined to comment.

The carrier’s shares climbed 2.5 percent to close at 497.15 rupees in Mumbai on Monday. Boeing was little changed at $189.58 at 1:25 p.m. in New York, while Airbus fell 1.1 percent to 74.76 euros.

Hot Market

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways PJSC owns a 24 percent stake in Jet Airways, which is expanding its fleet as competition intensifies in India. It’s one of the world’s fastest-growing aviation markets, where carriers offer below-cost fares to attract passengers. The Indian carrier recorded its first annual profit in seven years in the 12 months ended March 2016, mainly because of a drop in oil prices -- among the biggest costs for an airline.

Airlines in Asia are ordering hundreds of new planes to meet surging demand as an emerging middle class spends more of its disposable income on air travel. In India, market leader IndiGo has ordered 430 A320neo jets and is in talks to buy 50 ATR turboprop aircraft, while budget carrier SpiceJet Ltd. has ordered as many as 205 Boeing jets.

The 737 Max is the fastest selling aircraft in Boeing’s history, with 3,700 orders from 87 customers from around the world, according to the company’s website. Jet Airways also had an order for 75 Max 8 variants due for delivery starting next year. The current list price of the Max 8 is $112.4 million before discounts that are customary for large orders.

Jet Airways also is in talks with the U.S. planemaker to defer deliveries of 10 787 Dreamliners by two to three years, as the airline can use its existing relatively new 777 jets for a few more years, the person said. The carrier disclosed the 787 order in 2007 and has repeatedly postponed deliveries of the aircraft since 2011. In about three years, Jet’s A330s will exit its fleet, the person said.

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